Testimony of Israel Porter and 38 others in regard to Rebecca Nurse, 1692
Petition for Rebecca Nurse
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In 1692, when witchcraft accusations, trials, and executions roiled Salem, petitions flooded the Salem court and the colonial government. In this document from 1692, 39 of Rebecca Nurse’s neighbors, both men and women, testified that they “never had Any cause or grounds to suspect her of Any such thing as she is now Acused of.” Nurse herself petitioned the court to admit additional evidence by “wise and skillful” women on her behalf, but she was found guilty and executed. In 1711, her heirs received £25 in compensation.
Not all such items in the documentary record date from 1692. The accused who had survived the hysteria and the relatives of those who had been put to death or died sought justice for almost 20 years, urging the Massachusetts Bay government to overturn the verdicts and provide financial compensation for the victims.